It’s a scene enough to bring tears to a restaurant owner’s eyes. As we dined Friday night at the new Favor Café (the former Restaurant Miami), 913 W. Lake St., one party after another walked in the door – mostly young women dressed for a night of partying. Some of them sat down at tables, while others headed straight for the bar. And each time, the owner or a waiter had to inform them that, even though there was a well-stocked bar in plain sight, they could not order a drink – the restaurant is still waiting for its liquor license. (Our waiter said he hoped it would arrive in a week or two.)
And each party then turned around and walked out the door.
The food is traditional soul food and Cajun-Creole fare – fried chicken, fried catfish, seafood gumbo, po’boys stuffed with catfish or shrimp; salads topped with Cajun shrimp or chicken, plus chcken wings, hot dogs, a cheeseburger, and various deep-fried items – zucchini sticks, onion rings, French fries, hush puppies.
My Southern fried chicken dinner wasn’t bad – the chicken was deep-fried instead of skillet fried, and some pieces were meatier than others, but the flavor was good, and the accompaniments were classics: collard greens, candied yams and macaroni and cheese. If you like traditional American plain cooking, you’ll probably like the Favor Café. We were disappointed, though, with the Creole shrimp salad – the lightly breaded shrimp were plump and tasty, but there was no trace of any seasoning beyond salt, and the salad consisted of iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes and shredded American cheese.
Favor Café also offers an all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch with live music for $18.95, including cooked-to-order omelets, catfish, fried chicken, turkey sausage, and biscuits and gravy.
The old Miami Vice pastel blue and pink color scheme is still in place, but the walls are now hung with Afrocentric art, and the 80s disco sound track has been replaced by mellow R&B tracks from the same era.
The previous owner sold the restaurant after he ran into trouble with liquor license violations, but I hope this won’t delay the new owners getting a license; they are likely to have a hard time making it on food sales alone.